Policies & Guidelines

General Guidelines

General communication guidelines already in place also apply to social media.

Official spokespersons

Members of the W&M community who manage social media channels on behalf of the university are not official spokespersons; Brian WhitsonSuzanne Seurattan and Erin Zagursky are the official spokespersons at W&M. If you are unsure about whether or not a social media post will be mistakenly viewed as an official announcement from W&M, check first with University News & Media.

Sensitive topics

Any policy you have in place about how sensitive topics are communicated for your office, department or group should also cover social media; be cautious about posts related to condolences, tragedies, personal and private concerns, etc.

Personal bias

Keep personal views separate from university posts. The W&M name and any official social media channels of the university (a school, office, program or department) may not be used to promote or endorse a product, cause, political party or political candidate.

More information about political campaign-related activities of and at colleges and universities is available from the American Council on Education (pdf). This guidance does not, strictly speaking, apply to W&M, but is nonetheless instructive. Additional DHRM policies on the use of electronic communications and social media for state employees is available from the Compliance & Equity Office.

Emergency Communications

Emergency communication is the purview of the W&M Emergency Management Team (EMT) and the following applies to the use of social media for emergency communications:

  • the EMT will use @WMNews and facebook.com/WMNews to deploy emergency messages
  • in the case of an emergency, managers of W&M social media channels may only share/retweet exactly what is posted by W&M News in a manner that credits them as the source
  • Managers of W&M social media channels should not:
    • post their own emergency updates or versions that differ from what is posted by @WMNews
    • reinterpret, add to or delete from language used by @WMNews
Employee Usage

Virginia’s Department of Human Resources requires of state employees that “personal use of social media that refers to any aspect of the work environment should be done in a responsible and professional manner.” In addition, the W&M Code of Ethics states that members of this community will “treat other people with dignity and respect, ensuring there is no discrimination or harassment at William & Mary.”

Brand management

When you use social media on behalf of a W&M office, program or organization, your channels should reinforce the W&M brand. Consider the following:

  • recommended social media icon/profile photo templates are available
  • when choosing a username, try to incorporate "wm" (for William & Mary) either as a prefix or suffix if possible (i.e. wm_admission or wmalumni)
  • when naming your account, include a reference to W&M or William & Mary or include a mention in the bio or About section, as appropriate (note the use of the ampersand rather than the word "and")
  • editorial quality includes limiting typos, grammatical errors and subpar content
  • everything you post on social media has the potential to affect W&M’s reputation; enhancing or detracting from the institutional brand
  • whenever possible, mention W&M (@williamandmary on Twitter and Facebook, @william_and_mary on Instagram) or use W&M hashtags in your social media posts, this adds legitimacy and ties your channel to a strong brand
Additional Resources